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Divisional Singles Champions Crowned at USTA/ITA National Small College Championships
Super Bowl finals to be played on Sunday

MOBILE, Ala. – The morning matches produced eight divisional champions in singles play on Saturday, while the afternoon matches decided the participants in the Super Bowl finals at the 2011 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala.

Rollins’ Lucas Jovita and BYU-Hawaii’s Annie Hwang came out sharp in the Division II singles title matches, each cruising through in straight sets. Jovita won the first set 6-0, but Concordia’s Daniele Piludu jumped ahead 2-0 thanks to an early break in the second. However, that would be the last game for Piludu on the day, as Jovita took the final six games to advance to the Super Bowl with a 6-0, 6-2 victory. Hwang looked to be in complete control of her match against Armstrong Atlantic’s Barbora Kritckova, taking the first four games. Kritckova managed to get the set back on serve trailing 5-4, but Hwang broke at love to take the set. With the momentum completely on her side, Hwang won the second set 6-0 in 25 minutes.

Rollins Lucas Jovita
Rollins' Lucas Jovita

The Division III singles finals were also straight sets contests. On the men’s side, Emory’s Dillon Pottish continued to dominate the competition, surrendering only a single game to Washington University in St. Louis’ Adam Putterman to advance to the Super Bowl. Middlebury’s Lok Sze Leung claimed the women’s title with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Gabrielle Clark of Emory. Leung broke serve at 3-2 and was solid on serve the rest of the way to win the first. She was able to survive a scary moment in the second set, falling to the court awkwardly after twisting her ankle. After nearly 10 minutes, she continued play, quickly putting an end to the match with her heavy ground strokes and aggressive play.

The high drama of the day took place in both NAIA divisional finals. Embry-Riddle’s Chris Freeman and Oklahoma Christian’s Bruno Tiberti played for almost an hour in the first set alone before Freeman prevailed 6-4. The second set featured three consecutive breaks, with Tiberti seizing all momentum with a break at 4-2 to win the set 6-2. Freeman responded with an impressive start to the final set, racing out to a 4-1 lead. He would serve for the match at 5-3, but Tiberti found a way to produce a break and get the set back on serve. Tiberti had a chance to even the score at 5-5 with a hold of serve, but could not get the job done as Freeman advanced 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. The women’s final was just as tension-filled throughout, and also featured an Oklahoma Christian player, Hermon Brhane. The first set was tightly contested, with Brhane prevailing 7-5 against Auburn-Montgomery’s Ana Veselinovic. The second set was a complete turnaround, with Veselinovic breezing through it 6-1 to force a decisive third. The final set was on serve most of the way until Veselinovic won a marathon game on Brhane’s serve for a 4-3 lead. She managed to hold for 5-3, and then took another marathon game to win the match when Brhane mishit a ground stroke down match point.

Ana Veselinovic and Hermon Brhane
Auburn-Montgomery's Ana Veselinovic and Oklahoma Christian's Hermon Brhane

The two JUCO divisional finals followed identical scripts, with the victor taking the first set easily before having to hang on to win a competitive second set. Unseeded Jair Assuncao of Laredo continued his stellar play to claim the title, knocking off Collin County’s Kyle Rowe 6-1, 7-6 (3). Rowe went ahead two breaks of serve early in the second, but failed to hold the lead. He broke serve once again, earning a chance to serve for the set at 5-4, but once again Assuncao broke back. In the tiebreak, the players split the first six points before Assuncao won the final four. In the women’s final, Tyler’s Kerrie Cartwright needed only 38 minutes to claim a 6-1 advantage over Laredo’s Barbora Bozkova. The second set was much closer, and Bozkova actually held a break advantage most of the way. She served for the set at 5-4, but was broken at love by Cartwright, who won the final three games of the set for a 6-1, 7-5 victory.

The semifinal matches of the Super Bowl were also contested on Saturday, and surprisingly most of the matches were completed in straight sets. In all four draws (men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles), Division II took on JUCO in the semifinals, while Division III faced off against NAIA. The winners of the Super Bowl titles will earn a spot in the 2011 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which will take place Nov. 3-6 at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and feature some of the best men’s and women’s players from the Division I level.

Division II champion Lucas Jovita found himself in a tight battle to start the match against Jair Assuncao, but took the set 6-3 with a late surge of momentum. Assuncao battled cramps through most of the second set, unable to pose much of a threat; Jovita claimed the match 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the Super Bowl Championship. He will take on NAIA representative Chris Freeman, who put together two stunning sets of tennis to knock off Division III champion Dillon Pottish 6-3, 6-4. Pottish didn’t lose more than four games in a match in taking the Division III title, but Freeman was able to emerge victorious in just under an hour and a half.

Neither women’s singles semifinal was contested on the day. In the Division II/JUCO matchup, BYU-Hawaii’s Annie Hwang did not compete in the semifinals in order to respect the BYU institutional policy that does not permit Sunday competition, and at the same time, to ensure that the Super Finals would be played on Sunday (rather than a walkover). Accordingly, Kerrie Cartwright moved on to the finals of the Super Bowl. She will take on NAIA champion Ana Veselinovic, who moved on when Lok Sze Leung was unable to play due to the ankle injury she suffered earlier in the day.

In the semifinals of the men’s doubles Super Bowl, Division II winners Christian Hansen and Louis Loeffler of Valdosta State made quick work of JUCO victors Kyle Rowe and Michael Tymkiw 6-3, 6-2. Hansen and Loeffler dropped the opening two games of the match, but fought back to even the set and completely took control of the match the rest of the way. In the Super Bowl finals, Hansen and Loeffler will face off against Brian Chow and Richard Meyer of Williams College, the champions of Division III, who defeated NAIA representatives Adrian Bayh and Patrick Besch from Embry-Riddle 6-4, 6-4. After claiming a back-and-forth first set, Chow and Meyer raced out to a 4-1 lead in the second, appearing to be ready to close out the match easily. Bayh and Besch rallied to even the score at 4-4, but Meyer put Williams back in front with an easy hold. The Embry-Riddle duo was victimized by two double faults in the next game, and that was all Chow and Meyer needed to take the match and advance to the finals.

Only one women’s doubles Super Bowl match was played, as Division II champions BYU-Hawaii’s Annie Hwang and Sherry Liu did not play their match against JUCO winners Kerrie Cartwright and Audrey Leitz from Tyler, once again in order to honor the institution's policy of no athletic competition on Sunday. The Tyler tandem will take on NAIA representatives Oklahoma Christian’s Hermon Bhrane and Lucie Sipkova, who needed three sets to take down Emory’s Gabrielle Clark and Zahra Dawson, champions of Division III. Each set was fairly one-sided, and the duo of Brhane and Sipkova rebounded from dropping the second set to cruise through the third 6-2 to advance to the Super Bowl finals.